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The After War: The Complete Novel (The After War: Books 1-2) by Brandon Zenner


4 Stars

Publisher: Brandon Zenner

Date of publication: June 30th, 2017

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Number of pages: 445

POV: 3rd person

Series: The After War

To Alice – Book 1

Fire Horizons – Book 2

The After War: The Complete Novel – Books 1 & 2

Where you can find The After War: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Two years have passed since mankind faced extinction: Brain Rhodes and his cousin, Steven, are leaving the protection of their underground bunker for the first time after a cataclysmic war and unrelenting disease ravaged the earth. On the other side of North America, young Simon Kalispell is leaving the safety and seclusion of his cabin deep in the woods, traveling with his aging canine companion, Winston. For individual reasons, these men are traveling east, where the fragmented lives of a small number of survivors will soon be decided by the choices of a corrupt few. 

Simon Kalispell and Brian Rhodes are not yet aware, but the strength that resides inside them will soon be tested, and destiny will call for their fates to be forever intertwined.

Trigger Warning: Attempted rape

My review:

I should be banned from reading post-apocalyptic books. While I like them, they usually scare me half to death. I know one of the main reasons why is because when I read them, I usually think “Ok, well this could happen“. Then my imagination goes into overdrive and I end up having nightmares about the book. I do consider that a good thing (well not at the time but afterward). It shows that the author has gotten under my skin and made me think about what I was reading. The After War made me have nightmares. I kept dreaming that I was in Alice and the bad guys carried out the threat that they made to Simon in the cornfield.

The After War starts with Brian and Steven getting ready to emerge from their underground bunker. In the 2 years that they were underground, the world changed. There was a catastrophic war that was accompanied by a disease. Both of those killed off most of the people in America. Brian and Steven were sent to their underground bunker by their Uncle Al, a high-ranking general in the Army. Al knew what was coming and wanted to protect them. They had strict instructions while living in the bunker. The most important one being….do not let anyone in. The other one, they need to leave on or after the date marked off on their calendar. Not before because they could risk the disease still being around. After they leave, they need to find Steven’s sister, Bethany, and then find their way to Uncle Al. Which was easier said than done.

The second major plotline was Simon’s. Simon was the youngest son of a wealthy man. He was sent to Canada, to his parents secluded cabin in the woods, to avoid being drafted into the army. Simon wasn’t an ordinary young man, though. He was a survivalist and knew how to survive off the land and off the grid. Something his parents counted on when they sent him away. He decides to leave when he notices that more and more people were in the woods. So, along with Winston, his dog, he makes the trek back to his parents’ house. Simon is unprepared for what he encounters on the way to his parents’ house. What he sees and what he does changes his life forever. It makes him into the man he becomes in the second half of the book.

I liked Brian. He was the calmer of the duo and he was the one who could talk Steven out of his blind rages. He was cautious and it was him being cautious that saved his and Steven’s butts more than once. I did feel bad when he fought with Steven after the encounter at the house. But he was pushed to his limit because of Steven’s impulsiveness. The guilt he carried after that would have broken a normal man. But he worked through it and became a productive member of the new society. That is until he is called to do something that he never expected.

Steven drove me nuts. Put it this way, he wasn’t a bad guy but he made some pretty bad decisions. And he pulled Brian into those decisions. The fight between him and Brian I saw coming from a mile away. It doesn’t excuse Steven for believing when his saviors told him that Brian left him for dead. He did do the right thing in the end but it didn’t make up for everything he did in-between.

I fell a little in love with Simon. He was a very unconventional character. I liked how the author had him taking survival courses before being sent away. That set the course of his story for me. While hidden away, he lived off the land and he could have continued to do so if he hadn’t have been spooked. He was an asset to Alice when he finally made it there. So when the twist happened in his story, I was surprised. But it had to happen in order for him to meet up with Brian. That’s when I saw a different side of him and loved it!!

The bad guys in The After Wars were evil. I did think that  I made a mistake when Karl met up with Nick towards the middle of the book. I thought that Karl wanted to help Alice. But when the depths of Karl’s evilness was revealed, I was surprised. Karl was a bad dude and he surrounded himself with bad dudes. But he also was an enigma and I do wish that more had been written about him. I would have loved to know if the serial killer rumors were true.

The way the book ended was fantastic. Everyone got their due, even Karl. With the author leaving the book on that note, my imagination went wild. All the storylines were wrapped up in a way that satisfied me very much as a reader.

The After Wars is a post-apocalyptic book that is true to its genre. The plots were fantastic. I had no issues believing that America was in a huge war and that a deadly disease was let loose. I loved the characters, good and evil, and thought that they were fleshed out. This is a book that I would read again and would recommend to everyone.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Violence, language, and sexual situations. There is a scene of attempted rape. Also, a very gruesome scene where a couple of the main characters unknowingly eat a stew made up from human meat.

I would like to thank Brandon Zenner for allowing me to read and review The After Wars.

All opinions stated in this review of The After Wars are mine

I received no compensation for this review

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

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